My decision three years ago to become a member of HOTCUS was one of the best I made as a postgraduate. The organisation’s proceedings, from the postgraduate conference to the winter symposium, provide ample opportunities for research and career development. Serving on the HOTCUS Steering Committee for the past two years as a postgraduate secretary has been an honour. First with Dr Megan Hunt (Edinburgh) and then Mark Eastwood (Nottingham), we have tried to provide postgraduate members of HOTCUS with further opportunities through participation with the organisation. Beginning with the postgraduate conference Megan organised at Northumbria University in 2016, we offered travel grants to conference attendees through conference travel grants issued by the British Association for American Studies (BAAS). For the past couple of years, including last year’s event at Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge University, half of the event has been dedicated to career development for postgraduates. This year’s conference at Nottingham is also specifically open to early career researchers as well as postgraduates.
My first HOTCUS conference was at the University of East Anglia in June 2015. Presenting at HOTCUS conferences gave me vital opportunities to hone my research, talk with the like-minded, and gain advice and support from more-senior (friendly) academics. Through my HOTCUS membership, I have made colleagues and friends with fellow academics in the UK, the US, and Europe. While serving as a postgraduate secretary, I have gained invaluable experience that has directly enhanced my career development. The postgraduate and early career researcher travel grants, and annual article prize, are excellent opportunities for members, and are open to young researchers. HOTCUS strongly values its postgraduate members, and membership provides postgraduates numerous opportunities. In sum, involvement in HOTCUS has greatly enriched my postgraduate experience, and I look forward to continued participation in the organisation in the future.
– Kate Ballantyne
I have been a member of HOTCUS throughout all three years of my PhD, becoming postgraduate representative at the end of my second year. I can safely say that being a member of HOTCUS has improved not only the academic quality of my work, but the the overall experience of conducting a PhD in American history in the UK.
I was introduced to HOTCUS by former PG representative, Tom Bishop, and attended my first event in 2016 at the annual conference in Middleburg. This was my first real taste of academia beyond the confines of my university and it was a great experience as I was able to meet not only other postgraduates who shared a similar experience to me but to discuss my work with established and senior academics. This connection and openness between the most senior academics and earliest stage doctoral students is a rare one, in my experience, and one that underscores the open and inclusive nature of the HOTCUS community. I was also fortunate enough to win a HOTCUS travel grant during my first year which enabled me to conduct archival research in the United States. The financial contributions which HOTCUS make to postgraduates, whether through travel grants or in making conference attendance affordable, has greatly benefited the development of my PhD.
As one of the current postgraduate representatives on the committee, it has been terrific to see both PG membership and attendance at our events continue to grow. During my short involvement with the organisation, it seems to have grown in importance within the postgraduate community and the steps being taken to engage increasingly with ECRs is a welcome one. Both prior to, and whilst serving on the committee, it has been encouraging to see the work HOTCUS has been doing in terms of widening participation and broadening the diversity of the organisation. There are exciting plans to continue to develop this strategy and I think the continued growth of diversity will only contribute to the vibrancy of the HOTCUS community over the coming years.
In short, without the financial support of HOTCUS, intellectually productive conversations over the conference buffet, or friendly encouragement of both junior and senior members, my PhD experience would have been far less satisfying and enjoyable.
– Mark Eastwood